Tag Archives | jail

The Mass Incarceration Telecommunications Industry

phonesFrom a Nation on the booming business of privatized prison profiteering:

The calls were expensive, more than a dollar per minute. In order to accept one, I had to set up a prepaid account with Global Tel* Link, or GTL, “The Next Generation of Correctional Technology.” If Tim called and my account was out of money, the automated voice would prompt me to replenish it via credit card, while he waited on the other line. “By accepting an inmate call, you acknowledge and agree that your conversation may be monitored and recorded,” the company advises.

For Tim’s relatives, this had been their reality for years. GTL makes more than $500 million a year exploiting families like his, who face the choice between paying exorbitant phone rates to keep in touch with incarcerated loved ones—up to $1.13 per minute—or simply giving up on regular phone calls. Like many other telecommunications companies that enjoy profitable monopolies on prison and jail contracts across the country, GTL wins its contracts by offering a kickback—or “commission”—to the prison or jail systems it serves.

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30,000 California Prisoners Go On Hunger Strike Against Conditions

The Los Angeles Times reports on the largest prisoner protest in state history:
California officials don’t plan until Tuesday afternoon to update the situation in prisons throughout the state, where 30,000 inmates on Monday began refusing meals. The mass protest was called for months ago by a group of inmate leaders in isolation at Pelican Bay State Prison over conditions in solitary confinement, where inmates may be held indefinitely without access to phone calls. But inmates in at least five other prisons have provided their own lists of demands. They seek such things as warmer clothing, cleaning supplies, and better food, as well as changes in how suspected gang activity is investigated and punished. Lawyers for a group of Pelican Bay hunger strike leaders, who also are suing in federal court over what they contend are inhumane conditions, are to meet with their clients Tuesday.
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The National Disgrace Of Marijuana Possession Arrests

marijuana arrestsThe New Inquiry, sociologist Harry Levine explains the terrible mechanics propelling apartheid-style law enforcement in America:

Police arrest mostly young and low-income men for marijuana possession, disproportionately blacks and Latinos. In the last 15 years, police and sheriff ’s departments in every major U.S. city and county have made over 10 million of these possession arrests. Most people arrested were not smoking. They were carrying tiny amounts.

Police make so many because they are relatively safe and easy arrests. All police have arrest quotas and often they can earn overtime pay by making a marijuana arrest toward the end of a shift. The arrests show productivity. Making many low-level arrests of all kinds is very good for training rookie police who gain experience doing many stops and searches of teenagers.

There is also a push nationally, to states, counties, and city police departments, to get as many new people as possible into the criminal databases.

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California Reconsiders Draconian Three-Strikes Prison Sentences

American justice: 17 years behind bars for stealing cigarettes. The Los Angeles Times writes:

A Los Angeles County judge responsible for reconsidering the life prison terms of more than 1,000 offenders sentenced under the state’s three-strikes law began the process at a hearing Monday, reducing the punishments for five inmates convicted of relatively minor crimes.

Among those given shorter sentences was a 74-year-old who has served more than 15 years for possessing $10 worth of drugs and an 81-year-old behind bars for more than 17 years for stealing dozens of packs of cigarettes.

The hearing came three months after voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 36, which softened California’s tough three-strikes law and allowed many inmates sentenced for non-serious and nonviolent offenses to ask for shorter prison terms. In Los Angeles County, the hearings are expected to continue through at least much of this year.

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For-Profit Prison Corporation Accused Of Partnering With Violent Gangs To Run Jail

Corrections Corporation of America is accused of using targeted prison gang violence as a cost-saving measure, ThinkProgress reports:

A lawsuit brought by eight inmates of the Idaho Correctional Center alleges that the company is cutting back on personnel costs by partnering with violent prison gangs to help control the facility. Court documents and an investigative report issued by the state’s Department of Corrections show how guards routinely looked the other way when gang members violated basic facility rules, negotiated with gang leaders on the cell placement of new inmates, and may have even helped one group of inmates plan a violent attack on members of a rival gang.

The inmates contend that officials at the prison — the state’s largest, with more than 2,000 beds — use gang violence and the threat of gang violence as an “inexpensive device to gain control over the inmate population,” according to the lawsuit, and foster and develop criminal gangs.”

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New York To Use Jails As Homes For Those Displaced By Hurricane Sandy

If your home had no heat or electricity with winter approaching, would you consider being herded into jail? Russia Today reports:

With nowhere else to go, New Yorkers displaced by Hurricane Sandy may have no choice but to sleep in jails. The Arthur Kill Correction Facility on Staten Island may serve as a temporary home for up to 900 displaced victims of the storm. The medium-security prison was closed last December and with some fixing up, it could once again be fully functional.

As many as 40,000 New Yorkers are in need of shelter from extreme weather and rapidly decreasing temperatures, the city estimates, as the winter months approach. About 434,140 homes are currently still without power in the region that was in Hurricane Sandy’s path – mostly in New York and New Jersey. ­About 100,000 homes and businesses will remain without power for the next several months, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday in a news conference.

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Man Forced To Do Prison Labor While Awaiting Trial Sues For ‘Slavery’

It’s always good to see someone pushing back against the grotesqueries of the prison-industrial complex. Via Boing Boing:

In 2008, Finbar McGarry, a grad student at the University of Vermont, was arrested on gun charges. McGarry’s charges were ultimately dropped, and he was released. But while he was awaiting trial, his jailers ordered him to work for $0.25 in the jail laundry or be condemned to solitary confinement. He’s now suing, saying that this amounted to slavery.  If he wins, it will have huge repercussions for America’s jails, where pre-trial prisoners who have not been convicted of any charge are forced into hard labor.

During the course of his work, McGarry says he contracted a serious MRSA lesion on his neck—a potentially deadly bacterial infection. In 2009, he pressed a suit in federal court for $11 million—claiming he was made a slave in violation of his 13th Amendment rights. The judge ruled that McGarry’s constitutional rights had not been violated, but that finding was overturned on appeal last week.

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DEA Leaves Innocent Student In Cell For Five Days Without Food Or Water

Is this the new War on Drugs method for teaching college kids not to smoke pot? Californian Daniel Chong was swept up by authorities in a raid of a friend's house where 4/20 was being celebrated. His harrowing adventure began as he was then left in a DEA holding cell for five days, given no food or water, began hallucinating and lost his sanity, and shattered his glasses and slashed himself in a suicide attempt. He survived only by drinking his own urine and consuming some methamphetamine which, amazingly, he found in the cell:
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Georgia To Open Prison Just For Veterans

index.phpFrom one system of ridgidly-imposed discipline and control to another ... Russia Today reports:
Authorities in Muscogee County, Georgia say they’ve found a great way to let veterans of US wars share their experience with one another. It’ll just happen behind steel bars and under lock and key. Officials from the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office recently held a press conference to discuss once of the department’s newest endeavors and they believe that it is the first of its kind in the country. Tucked in a corner of the county jail in rural Georgia is a dormitory specifically reserved to house inmates that have fought for America. There ought to be a place in our city that provides a facility where veterans can stay for a period of time while being treated, physically and mentally," Ret. Col. Roy Plummer said, reports the local Ledger-Enquirer...
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What Is It Like Spending 40 Years In Solitary Confinement?

Confinement

Photo: Elians (CC)

Imagine having to go through this. Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox have lived 40 straight years in windowless boxes in Louisiana’s worst jail, as political prisoners. Via the Guardian:

They’ve spent 23 hours of each day in the last 40 years in a 9ft-by-6ft cell. Now, human rights groups intensify calls for their release.

First imprisoned [for robbery] in 1967, Herman Wallace came together with Albert Woodfox and a third man, Robert King, to form a Black Panther chapter inside the prison, hoping to organize African American inmates against the brutal treatment they endured. Angola was reputed to be the worst jail in America, whose 5,000 inmates were still racially segregated and where violence and sexual slavery were rampant.

Then on April 17, 1972, a prison guard was murdered during in one of the wings. The Angola 3 were immediately accused of the murder, and placed that same day in solitary.

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